left is Major General James G. Jensen, Commander of the Alaskan Air
Command. Next, on right, is Maj. Gen. George A. Carver, Commanding General of United
States Army, Alaska.
Firebird crewmembers, kneeling, from left to right are Gary Lattin (aircraft commander), Nolan Bailey
(co-pilot), Life N.“Lin” Dove (navigator), Frank Termin (flight engineer), and Hubert Smiley (loadmaster).
Back in the mid-1960's, I had the pleasure of
serving on a crew that flew Major General George Allen Carver, Commanding
General of the United States Army,
Alaska, and his staff, around Alaska on an inspection tour of various
On this tour we transported General Carver to several different Alaskan sites
throughout the day. His final stop was to be Nome, Alaska, where he
would remain overnight (RON). It was dark, as in usual in Alaska's
winter months, and the weather was miserable. In fact, it was snowing
and the C-130 was icing up as we approached Nome. But, we were
determined to deliver the General as had been promised at Elmendorf.
Upon arrival at Nome, the General and his staff disembarked, and we asked if
we could go back to Elmendorf for the night. We were unsure of lodging
and asked to return early the next day to take them back. This was
approved, but before we could take off the C-130 had so much ice on the wings
that we had to spend the night in "beautiful downtown" Nome.
The General, and staff, had no knowledge of this. We were lucky
campers, found a small hotel, and checked in.
In a short time we walked down the street to a local restaurant to eat.
The restaurant and bar was nice, but it was really dark inside. We sat
down and began to look around. When our eyes adjusted to the darkness,
I noticed a group of people sitting at a table across from us, and recognized
some of them as being members of the General's staff. So, the aircraft
commander, Gary Lattin, sent me over to let them
know that the severe weather had forced us to stay in Nome overnight.
I casually sauntered over and said something like, "Hey, just wanted to
let you know that the weather kept us from leaving, and that we have to spend
the night in Nome. Please let us know if there are any
changes." A deep voice said, from the darkness at the other
end of the table, "That's fine. Did you find a room? Just
let me know if the crew needs anything. We will take care of
it." Whew, my heart instantly stopped. It was the General,
and I had been somewhat "disrespectful." I straightened
up, got my act together, and said, "Everything is just fine, Sir. Thanks
To me, the Army Generals were much more thoughtful of the "troops"
than many our USAF Generals. General Carver’s first thought was our
welfare--the troops. I've never forgotten this man, and his regard for
those that had the pleasure of serving him.
(Former Firebird pilot Nolan Bailey)